Book Reflects on Mary's Words and Silences

Cardinal Meditates on Her Personal Relationships

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, MAY 3, 2011 ( Mary’s words, but also her silences, hold a message for Christians who want to know her better, says Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo.

This was one of the affirmations in a new Italian-language book by the president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, presented April 13 in the Rome.

The 200-page book, «Maria. Silenzi e parole» (Mary: Silences and Words), was presented by the author along with Monsignor Giuseppe Sciacca, auditor of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota; Gabriel Moretti, former president of the Italian National Tourism Agency; and Benedetta Papasogli, professor of Italy’s LUMSA University.

Cardinal Lajolo stated that «if Jesus had seven words, Mary had four,» and he highlighted the importance and content of her «silence.»

Hence, he said, the book is a contribution to the reflection on «interpersonal relationship in Mary’s life.»

The cardinal explained how he got the idea to write this book, specifying that it is not an explanation of Mary’s life, an exegesis, a Mariology treatise, or a book of asceticism.

«Mariology yes, but not in the sense of a theology elaborated on the mystery of this woman,» he clarified.


The prelate said, «I have simply tried to present the words and silences that manifest Mary’s relationship with the person with whom she speaks or communicates.»

He explained: «When all is said and done the interpersonal relationship is the most important thing.

«It’s true that there is the being, but happiness is not what we know we are, but what we are, and this appears in our relations with other persons.

«If we are attentive our silences are full of personal relationships with events, with what we have to do or avoid or what awaits us. Then, what are these relationships? And so I ventured into this analysis.»

Cardinal Lajolo said that he wished to tell with much simplicity what Mary’s words «said to me.» He added that in Mary’s words, «especially in the Magnificat, is reflected how she is a soul imbibed in the Old Testament» and «all her phrases are ordered by her meditation of Scripture.»

«I believe that when we read a text of literature we can go more deeply,» the prelate asserted. «But in the Bible the word is directed to me and I must seek to understand, because I must give my answer.»

The cardinal said that one of the four moments the book reflects on is the Annunciation, where «Mary begins by silence» to «respond as handmaid of the Lord, that is, as queen.»

Then, he continued, it covers the moment of the Magnificat, the longest quotation, in which her words are more than all the others put together.

The volume also reflects on Mary’s words on finding Jesus in the Temple, «Son, why have you done this to us?» and in Cana when she said, «They have no more wine.»

Cardinal Lajolo added that «the silences are when one considers that she was present,» not, for example, in the Last Supper, in which she was not present.

Three types of silence

The book indicates three types of silence. The first, he explained, is an impenetrable silence, such as when Mary is pregnant and the situation is created with St. Joseph.

If Mary had said that it was the work of the Holy Spirit, St. Joseph would have asked for some proof, the prelate explained. And she left him in the greatest anguish, because «only God could find the solution to the difficulty in which she has been placed.»

Then, the cardinal said, there are transparent silences, because Mary was a normal woman, like us except for sin. One example, he noted, is with St. Joseph in the virginal marriage, which, nevertheless, was always a marriage.

Third, Cardinal Lajolo stated, there are the penetrating silences, as when she tried to understand certain events: Simeon’s words, or finding Jesus in the Temple.

Speaking about the interpretation of the Magnificat, he specified: «It came to me thus and thus I wrote it.»

The cardinal said: «Nothing of what I wrote is dogma.

«I wrote it because it came to me spontaneously even if afterwards I had to order it. With simplicity that does not pretend to be doctrine, but to know a person in her relationships.»

He concluded that his book is about «words, rather silences, because the mystery of Mary is enveloped in a great silence, because it is the Lord who willed to descend among his people in the middle of the night, and his words, because Mary is the Mother of the Word.»

Monsignor Sciacca indicated that curiosity and admiration, together with the sense of sincere piety, were the sentiments that accompanied him during the reading of the book.

He said, «I was curious and surprised that Cardinal Lajolo, a well-known jurist, a canonist of the Munich school and a consummate diplomat, and in charge of the most secular of the organisms that relates to the Holy Father in so far as temporal sovereign, would write a Mariology book.»

The priest called it a volume in which «he invites us soberly but in an attractive way to share the look full of wonder, of affection and with the roots of the faith, that he has succeeded in putting on the Virgin’s soul, trying to understand with a loving intellect Mary’s sentiments, by listening to her words and her silences.»

For her part, Papasogli concentrated on the silences «because it is no accident that in the title ‘silences’ are before ‘words.'»

She mentioned the cover of the volume, with «an icon of a meditative Mary who reflects intensely all these things in her heart.»

«The word ‘meditate’ stems from the Greek and the Hebrew, and etymologically means to have in the heart,» said Papasogli.

She concluded that the book is about admiring and telling, as those personages that are in the pictures of the painter Fra Angelico, «in which there is a positive atmosphere, a luminosity, a medicine of which we all need a bit.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation